Last week, in pictures

Harrogate Turkish Baths, relaxation room
After another set of nights last weekend, I needed some rest and relaxation. The Turkish baths in Harrogate ticked both of those boxes. The building is absolutely gorgeous, having recently been restored to its Victorian opulence. We spent a leisurely couple of hours soaking up the heat and occasionally braving the bracing plunge pool. The tension I’ve been feeling in my neck feels easier and my skin, more hydrated. I’d like to back in the winter, the heat will feel extra luxurious when it’s cold outside.

Homemade chocolate cake with mum's homegrown grapes
Knowing that I love cake, my aunt baked her first cake in years. Chocolate, coffee cake with chocolate cream. Decorated with grapes from my mother’s garden.

The Midland Manchester, Royal Afternoon Tea
On Wednesday it was time for afternoon tea with Em and Han. Tea at the Midland has been on my Manchester to-do list forever and it was so worth the wait! We dined on crustless sandwiches and dainty pastries, whilst sipping endless cups of tea. There may also have been a glass of bubbles…

Alberts Schloss negroni sharer
The weather was so unbelievably gorgeous that on my walk home after tea, I rang husband and told him we were going out for dinner. We walked back into town, without jackets, and found ourselves at Alberts Schloss where we ate the most delicious German food. It was the best way to celebrate what will surely be one of the last warm days of the year.

Pot Kettle Black, Manchester. Wagon Wheel Brownie

We’ve had a quiet weekend, spent mostly at home or mooching around town. We started Saturday with lacklustre coffee and brownies in Pot Kettle Black – a shame since their main dishes are so damn tasty. A grocery shop, some time in the kitchen and an early night finished the day off.

Smitten Kitchen flapjacks
I made these flapjacks and they were insanely good. So good that they were gone by Sunday morning.

Caramelised Red Onion and Goats Cheese Tart
I also unearthed an unopened bag of red onions that went out of date over 6 weeks ago! They were perfectly fine however so I chopped them up and caramelised them, before throwing together some tarts with a block of goats cheese that has been living in the freezer for about a year.

The end of September

The weather has turned in the last few days. The rain was icy cold last night and I took a hot water bottle to bed. We’re steadfastly refusing to turn the heating on in our house, but I know it won’t be long before I crack. I saw my breath in the cold air this morning and I swear there was a glisten of frost on the grass, but I’m choosing to ignore it for now. It has only just turned October, after all.

The last two weeks of September were spent with family and friends. A particular quirk of my current job is that I don’t get to pick when I take my annual leave – it’s fixed into my rota. A fact I wasn’t particulate pleased with initially, but being forced to have two full weeks off work is actually rather nice.

Unusually for me, I didn’t make any travel plans and instead tried to focus on spending time with my people, and relaxing.

Monday

I finished my stretch of night shifts and after a particularly infuriating journey home – travelling into Manchester during morning rush hour is my own personal hell – I made it back and was reunited with my bed. A 90 minute snooze later, I went into town to meet a friend for brunch at Pot Kettle Black – the merguez eggs were divine. I wandered over to the Northern Quarter to take a coat to the tailors before treating myself to a fro-yo, finally cashing in all those loyalty cards I have been holding on to.

Tuesday
I relaxed.

Wednesday



There was afternoon tea to celebrate a birthday and an opportunity to catch up with old friends from my last job – I miss those nutters.

After tea, I drove across the Pennines to see my family.  I finally gave into the germs that had been threatening to ruin my week and went to bed at 7pm. My cousin was up from London and we spent some quality cousin time together in the hours that I managed to stay awake.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

More sleep and lots of sorting through piles of knick-knacks for a car boot my mother and I planned to have on Sunday.

I also successfully made salted caramel without a thermometer – I like to think it was skill, but really it was just pure luck.

Sunday

I woke up at half 5  for our car boot. We didn’t make much money but we did shift a fair amount of stuff and I had fun people watching. Our unsold wares are to go to the charity shop.

Then it was to Leeds for tea and a catch up with Lyds. We made a friend, who was more interested in our food than she was in us.

Monday

Lunch with my in laws

Wednesday
I went to my first ever book club. We discussed Normal People by Sally Rooney. I did not like the book, but I really enjoyed the evening.

Thursday

I popped back to Yorkshire to go to an event at the Redbrick Mill – a wonderful, converted mill which I have enjoyed visiting for years. I went with R and we chatted about mortgages and solicitors and felt very grown up. We listened to some wonderful bloggers speak, drank bubbles and ate vegan brownies. I resisted the urge to buy all the yellow things.

Friday

I met Em’s gorgeous beagle and we took her for a walk along the river Mersey. Then I met another friend and ended up on another walk. We covered 8 miles and stopped for food along the way. He ordered soup and then nicked my chips.

Sunday

My cousin came to visit. She told me she didn’t eat breakfast because she knew our day would involve lots of food.

We had an insanely delicious pineapple and coconut donut from Siop Shop and then filled our savoury bellies with snacks at Bundobust. We hopped on a tram to the Quays to see the poppies at the Imperial War Museum. I made my cousin share an ice-cream and fed her pho and summer rolls before sending her home.

R’n’R at the Woodland Spa

The Woodland Spa has been on my radar for the last year and I finally visited on Tuesday. I picked up a sore throat and sniffly nose on my nights, so a spa day with new friends was just what the doctor ordered.

I haven’t known Han and Em very long, but three days into working with each other, we were already dressing alike, so I knew we would get along.* And what better way to bond, than to spend the day relaxing and eating.

Lunch at the Woodland Spa, Burnley

A wonderful time was had gossiping in the hydropool, slathering ourselves in mud and steaming it off, almost falling asleep in the serenity pool.The Woodland Spa, Burnley

We eschewed wine in favour of virtuous fruit juices but then had chips with lunch, drank tea whilst indulging in pudding, then drove home through thick Manchester traffic. But it was all good, because we were relaxed.

I had a very good day.

 

* we wear stripes8D1B001F-97F8-4B51-8F1B-55770EE8EBD9

Over the weekend

We had our favourite Leeds couple over to visit this weekend.

Much food was eaten.

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I’ve had my eye on the Electro Brunch at Gaucho for a couple of years, but after hearing stories from colleague at work who went recently, I knew I had to make plans to get down there stat. The seating is for two hours and for £50 you get to feast yourself on bottomless food and drink. The french toast was actually a little disappointing albeit the most photogenic item on the menu- everything else however was excellent. The provoleta was my favourite.

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We slow walked over to The Gasworks where we were supposed to relax and digest, but somehow we ended up playing Shufl.

Most. Annoying. Game. Ever.

I could not get the knack of sliding those little suckers but it was strangely addictive. I’m already planning a return trip.

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We crazy golfed our way around Gary at Junkyard Golf.

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Had a much needed tea stop at Home Sweet Home, before going to watch Deadpool 2.

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And ended the evening with greasy pizza and chats.

48 hours in Milan, snapshots

snapshot Milan Duomo

For a long time, the deciding factor on where to go on holiday very much depended on where Ryan Air was flying to cheaply.* Milan, well Bergamo really, since most Ryan Air flights don’t actually seem to land in the airports of the city advertised, has been on my radar as somewhere to go one day. Last weekend, quite by accident, I finally got round to it visiting.

My friend and I were supposed to go to Madrid last November however our flights were cancelled and as well as being refunded our money, we were given some flight vouchers. After a perusal of possible destinations to use them on, we ended up picking Milan.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan

I’ve been a bit of a useless friend recently, and this was the first time I’ve seen L in 10 months so we knew we would spend the whole time catching up over food and tea. Sightseeing wasn’t particularly high on the agenda.

Still, once we landed in Milan, we found ourselves wandering over to the Duomo since it was the one landmark we knew of.

Milan Duomo, front

We approached from the side and decided to walk all the way to the end of the Piazza before turning around to get our first proper look of the cathedral. It was pretty spectacular and gleamed in the midday light.

Aperol spritz at the Aperol terraceAperol Terrace, Milan Duomo

Landmarks are best enjoyed with a drink in hand so we headed over to the Aperol terrace and sat outside, sipping drinks, under the shadow of the Duomo. It was one of my favourite moments of the weekend. It was a little chilly but the sun was out and it’s the first time I’ve felt its warmth on my face all winter.**

The rest of the weekend was a merry blur of chats, food and copious cups of tea. We did consider going to one museum, but once we got there we were put off by the large queue and went for cake instead. Many museums in Milan are free (and BUSY!) on the first Sunday of the month.

Some notes on the things we did.

Eating

Somehow, over the course of the weekend, we managed to walk 23 miles. A good job, I suppose, given how much we ate. We did very little research beforehand and instead Googled things we fancied. Apart from some lacklustre but filling dim sum, we lucked out and found some excellent food.

avocado toast from Fancy ToastMilan Be Bop Pizza

Sushi at Conch – Tasty sushi. Crazy delicious wakame salad.

Gelato from Raki – I had the most amazing vanilla and ginger gelato.

Toast from Fancy Toast – sweet and savoury toast toppings. I wish I had room for the nutella toast after my savoury avo but I just couldn’t do it. The portions are really filling.

Pizza from Be Bop – Thin and crispy based pizzas. Good prices.

Arancini from Antica Fabbrica dell’Arancina Milano – cheap, cheerful and tasty arancini

Espresso with melted chocolate from CioccolatItalian – GO HERE for melted chocolate heaven. I had the most amazing espresso with melted hazelnut chocolate and whipped cream. L had a pot of hot, melted chocolate full of pistachio nuts.

Sleeping

Mercure Milano Regency, here

Clean. 2 minutes from a tram stop or a 30 minute walk from the city centre. Crap water pressure, but I can forgive them that. It had a quirky Hotel Budapest vibe to it. After hotel tax, it worked out at £50 per night for a room, breakfast included.

Mercure Regency Hotel

Doing

Frog free walking tour, Milan

Free walking tour with Frog Walking Tour

Apart from walking between food stops, we did manage to make it to a free walking tour. I love these kinds of tours and have done one in pretty much every place I’ve been that offers them. I find them to be a good way to learn about the place you’re visiting, seeing some major sights and getting tips on things to do from locals.

Grand Canal, Milan

We were too full by the time aperitivo came around, which is a sort of Italian happy hour with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, but we enjoyed walking around the Navigli area where you’ll find many bars serving the meal, set along side a pretty old canal system.

I really enjoyed my weekend in Milan. If you can get cheap flights, it’s certainly a place that’s worth a visit for a leisurely, food-filled few days.

 

*Back in the glory days when you could literally fly somewhere for 2p return

**I’m being dramatic, I know, but winter feels like it has dragged on for soooooooo long!

Autumn goals: an update

With two holidays abroad and no weekends at home I didn’t get everything done on my list this season, but I gave it a good go.

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I had pumpkin spice lattes in LA and I ate a pumpkin pie someone else made.

I had a friend round for baked Camembert and gossip. It was going to be fondue, but since I was late to work by 90 minutes thanks to a motorway closed due to flooding, I had to stay late to get all my jobs done which didn’t leave much time for cooking by the time I got home.

We bought new bedding and even splurged on some cosy pyjamas.

We went to a haunted escape room with some of my cousins which did double duty as an autumn goal and 30 before 30 goal. Sadly for some reason the company haven’t posted our victory photo on their Facebook page so you’ll have to take my word for it – we won the game with three minutes to spare.

I made homemade hot chocolate for the family, but we wussed out of stargazing. It was too cold, so we watched Inception at my mother’s house instead.

Halloween in Hollywood

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Our time in Vegas was fabulous but all too short. We ventured on to Los Angeles and spent Halloween in the city.

Apart from going to see the Hollywood sign, we didn’t have any specific plans for LA. We mostly wanted to soak up the atmosphere and, as seems to be the theme with all my holidays, eat some good food. We spent some time in West Hollywood for the Halloween parade. We found a bar with a couple of free seats and people watched for an hour or so. I really enjoyed seeing how much effort  people put into their outfits.
in-chains.jpgMedusa and partnerThe JokerWilly Wonka, smoking

I had hoped we would be able to see a film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery but the timings didn’t work out. Instead, R found a roof top cinema that was showing the 90’s miniseries version of IT.

After a few drinks at the parade, we ventured to Melrose. Our tickets included dinner at adjoining restaurant where I had the best mango and coconut pudding.

Melrose Menu

And then it was upstairs to the rooftop for the screening where I fell asleep half way through – those beanbags were so darn comfy! The bits of the show that I did see were hilariously cheesy and not at all scary, which is good because I’m actually a massive scaredy cat.

Rooftop Cinema

Sadly we didn’t dress up for the occasion because we had spent the morning sightseeing and didn’t have time to head back to our AirBnB to get changed. But we did put on some ears so we looked a little festive.